I remarked (well joked) in a tweet recently about the breakaway of the therapist's form the coaching body BACP. I wrote that it was an example of coaching's Judean people's front mentality. That's an obsession with being the one true voice and assuming that circling your pews in defence of doctrinal integrity is preferable to any broad church.That said psychotherapy has at least a compelling evidence base to boast of whereas coaching's based on anecdote and self report.As the great Tony Grant puts it much of coaching's organisational value is derived by dividing a small number into a big number and expressing it as a percentage. The bigger the big number the better we look. This is of course is exactly what a lot of attempts to measure coaching ROI look like (See real world coaching evaluation).Here are the three reasons why coaching can learn from therapy:1. They have a decent set of disciplinary fields (psychology, psychiatry), which record their interventions and effectiveness through decent data and good research design. That's because a lot of the time they have to prove their clinical value to the US healthcare system.2. They understand that the real issue at the heart of coaching is about relationships and effective reflection, leading to effective action.3. Psyschotherapy research uses "meta studies" which remove the noise form lots of small scale studies and put them into a compelling signal of real evidence which drive practice insights.Coaching is not therapy but especially executive format it is about behaviour change and it is enacted between professionals. Therapy has a long history of rigorous research coaching doesn't. So called executive coaching has nowhere near the level of rigour and relevance therapy has.It needs to get there quickly.(Smither 2011 Journal of Business Psychology)
I am FCIPD and have 20 years' HR and coaching experience and am now training to be a Psychotherapist. I work from the premise that coaching and counselling are on the same continuum. Some of the additional learning that coaching can gain from therapy also includes:
1. Exploring the role of the unconscious in driving behaviour.
2. Understanding patterns of behaviour is more difficult if it is just restricted to talking about behaviour at work
3. The emphasis on the therapist's self-awareness is a huge requirement in a therapist's training.
I believe that alongside the 'traditional' coach, there is also a need for coach-therapists who could work at a deeper and more psychological level with leaders. How can the profession ready itself for such a role?
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